Common Poker Terms

In poker, there is practically a library of poker terms that are commonly used. For the uninitiated, these terms can sound like a completely different language but can help accelerate your progress when learning how to play poker. When a poker player says, “I flopped a belly buster on a rainbow board”, when they are really saying that they have an inside straight draw, after the dealer dealt the first three cards, all of which happen to be a different suit.

Watching enough televised poker, like on the World Poker Tour, you can start getting a feel for the poker terms that are most commonly used, but sometimes you’ll run into a term that makes you go “Huh?”. As with most industries or games though, these colorful terms are part of what makes a game inclusive and special to it’s players. Poker is no different at all and being able to shoot the breeze with poker lingo can be a pretty fun thing to do when you are familiar with it.

If the list below isn’t comprehensive enough, our friends over at Poker Poker have put together a poker slang and lingo guide that puts ours to shame. They have around 1000 poker terms in their dictionary and it’s growing all the time. In addition to the basic introductory terms, they have some really obscure societal references and also a bunch of online poker forum jokes. Check it out if you get a chance.

So, to help out the novice poker players, here is a list of poker terms, supplied by the nice people over at Party Poker.

A Game
The best performance you can give while playing poker.

ABC Poker
A simple strategy used to beat soft poker games.

ABI (Average Buy In)
A term used by tournament players that averages the cost of buy-ins they play to determine their bankroll.

A five-card hand that contains one Ace, with no straight or flush or a hand with no pair in it.

Ace in the Hole
An ace dealt face down in a stud game, usually five-card stud.

Ace Out
When a player wins the hand with ace high.

Ace to Five
A lowball game where aces are low, and the aim is to get low cards, 5432A being the best hand.

Ace up the sleeve
This can either refer to a legitimate hidden advantage that will be revealed later in the hand or a form of cheating where an ace is hidden to be reintroduced at an optimal time.

Aces and Spaces
A poker hand that contains two aces and three other irrelevant cards.

Aces Full
A full house with three aces and any pair.

Aces Over
A slang term for a full house that contains three aces.

Aces Up
A hand that contains two pairs, one of which is Aces.

A form of draw poker where players cannot raise without at least a pair of aces.

To make an action at the poker table.

Checking/Betting/Raising. A game in which players are playing a lot of pots is considered an “action” game.

Action Button
A marker in front of a player that requires them to place an extra forced bet into the pot.

Active Player
Any player who is still in the hand.

A purchase of more chips (optional) at the end of the re-buy period in a tournament.

A person who facilitates the joining and managing of a poker club.

When a player bets all his/her chips.: In online poker, you may be deemed “All-in” when you are disconnected (even if you have chips remaining).

American Airlines
Two Aces.

Money placed in the pot before the hand is begun.

A draw that requires two streets to complete.

Backdoor Flush Draw
A three-card flush draw on the flop that requires the turn and river to be of the same suit to complete it.

Bad Beat
When a hand is beaten by a lucky draw.

The amount of money a player has set aside to play poker.

Belly Buster
A draw and/or catch to an Inside Straight.

To place chips into the pot.

Bet the Pot
When a player bets the amount of the pot.

A straight that is A-2-3-4-5.

Big Blind
A designated amount that is placed by the player sitting in the second position, clockwise from the dealer, before any cards are dealt. (Players joining a game in progress must post a Big Blind, but may do so from any position.)

Big Slick
A hand that contains an A-K.

Bingo Poker
A term used to describe a strategy where players play any two cards, hoping that they’ll match the flop.

A card that has no significance to the hand.

The bet(s) that must be made by the two players sitting directly to the dealer’s left which will start the action on the first round of betting. The blinds are posted before any cards are dealt. (A “Blind” bet is one that is made in the dark without looking at your cards.)

Blind Raise
When a player raises without looking at his hand.

To make other players believe that one has a better hand than he/she might otherwise have by betting or raising when they do not have the best hand.

The term used to describe all dealt community cards.

The cards that are dealt face-up in a poker game for all players to see. In flop games, five cards are dealt face-up in the center of the table. In Seven Card Stud, four cards are dealt face-up in front of each player.

A slang term for a full house.

A piece of software that can play poker, used by cheats to play online poker.

Bottom Pair
When a player uses the lowest card on the flop to make a pair with one of his own cards.

A reward for knocking out another player in a tournament.

An Ace high straight (A-K-Q-J-10).

The forced bet made on the first round of betting by the player who is dealt the lowest card showing in Seven Card Stud and Stud 8 or Better. In Razz (Lowball) it is the highest card showing

Bring It In
To start the betting on the first round.

Broomcorn’s Uncle
A player who antes himself broke.

The stage of a tournament just before the players reach the money.

A pair of Aces.

To raise.

The top card of the deck that is discarded before additional cards are dealt.

To go broke or to miss your draw.

Also known as the dealer button, it is a small round disk that is moved from player to player in a clockwise direction following each hand, to theoretically indicate the dealer of each hand.

The minimum amount of money required by a player to sit down in a particular poker game.

Buying the Button
A cash game rule where a player can post both the small and big blind if they missed the big blind the previous hand. By doing this, the player gets to play immediately and will be on the button in the next hand.

When a player chooses to match the previous bet.

Call Cold
To call both a bet and raise(s).

Calling Station
A player that calls down with a wide range of hands.

To take the last of the maximum amount of raises allowed per round of betting.

The room or space in a casino where poker is played.

The last card available of a certain type.

Case Chips
A player’s last chips.

Cash Game
A poker game where the chips have a cash value.

Cash Out
To leave a game and convert your chips to cash.

To make your draw/the card you were looking for to improve.

Calling a bet to try and make your draw on the next hand.

When it’s a player’s turn to act and there has been no action in front of them and he opts not to bet, he “checks.”

When out of position, you check to your opponent and call their bet.

When out of position, you check to your opponent and fold to their bet.

When a player first checks and then raises in a betting round.

Chip Dumping
The act of giving your chips to another player in a tournament to give them an advantage.

Chip Leader
The player with the most chips in a tournament/sit and go.

To return the blinds to the players who posted them and move on to the next hand if no other players call. It also means to “split the pot”.

When two or more players conspire to cheat in a poker game.

Combo Draw
A draw that has more than one way to improve, such as a flush draw and a straight draw.

Community Cards
Cards that are face-up and used by all players.

Continuation Bet/C-Bet
A bet made on the flop after that player has raised preflop.

When you run a strong hand into an even stronger hand.

Two Kings.

The position to the right of the button.

Dead Man’s Hand
Two pair – Aces and Eights (Wild Bill Hickock was shot in the back while playing this hand).

Dead Money
Money that has been contributed to the pot involuntarily or by players who are no longer in the hand.

Dead Outs
Cards that would have improved your hand but have already been folded by other players at the table.

A hand that is not a favorite to win.

To bet out into the last aggressor.

Door Card
This is the first exposed card, or “up” card, in a player’s hand in Stud games.

To win a hand that doubles the number of chips you had at the start of the hand.

Down Card
Hole cards. Cards that are dealt face down.

Doyle Brunson
It’s a Holdem hand consisting of a 10-2 (Brunson won the world championship two years in a row on the final hand with these cards).

Draw Lowball
Form of poker where each player is dealt five cards with the option of discarding one or more and replacing them with new ones and the low hand wins.

Draw Poker
Form of poker where each player is dealt five cards down with the option of discarding one or more and replacing them with new ones to attempt to make a better hand.

Drawing Dead
When a hand has no chance to improve to the best hand.


Dry Pot
In a three-handed pot where one player is all in, there is a side pot between the two remaining players. If there are no chips in this pot, it is considered dry.

A pair of Twos.

A pair of Twos.

Early Position
Position on a round of betting where the player must act before most of the other players at the table. (It’s considered the two positions located to the left of the Blinds.)

Edge Shot
A bet made from an advantageous position.

Effective Stack
The stack size of the player with the least amount of chips at the table.

End bets
The last bet of a round.

The percentage of the time a hand will win against another.

Expected Value
The amount of money a player can expect to make with a hand in the long term.

Fake Think
When a player pretends like they’re thinking over a tough decision when they actually have a trivial decision with the purpose of deceiving their opponents.

Fifth Street
Also known as the “river” card. In flop games, this represents the fifth community card on the table and the final round of betting. In Stud games, this is the fifth card dealt to each player and represents the third round of betting.

A player who isn’t very good at poker.

Five-card Draw
A poker game in which the player is dealt five cards down. They have one draw to replace them and the best high hand wins the pot.

Five-card Stud
A poker game in which each player is dealt five cards, one down and four up, with betting after 2, 3, 4, & 5 cards.

Flat Call
Calling a bet without raising.

To call a bet with nothing with the purpose of bluffing on later streets.

In Hold’em and Omaha, the first three community cards that are dealt face-up in the center of the table all at one time. The “flop” also indicates the second round of betting.

Flop Games
Poker games (Hold ’em and Omaha) that are played using community cards that are dealt face up in the center of the table.

An employee of the cardroom who makes rulings and decisions.

Any five cards of the same suit.

Flush Draw
When a player has four cards in his hand of the same suit and is hoping to draw a fifth to make a flush.

To throw your hand away when it’s your turn to act.

Fold Equity
The amount of equity a player gains from their opponent folding when they make a bluff.

Forced Bet
A required bet that starts the action on the first round of a poker hand.

Four Bet
A reraise made after a three-bet has been made. It goes raise, re-raise, three-bet, four-bet.

Four of a Kind
Four cards of the same number or face value (“quads”).

Fourth Street
In flop games, it is the fourth community card dealt (also known as “the turn”) and represents the third round of betting. In Stud games, it is the fourth card dealt to each player and represents the second round of betting.

Free Card
When you see the next card for free because everyone in the hand has checked.

Either a tournament you don’t have to pay to enter or a scenario where two players have the same hand, but one has outs to a flush to make the best hand.

A tournament where you cannot rebuy or re-enter once you’ve been eliminated.

Full House
Any three cards of the same number or face value, plus any other two cards of the same number or face value.

GTO (Game-Theory-Optimal)
The best way to play a hand of poker according to game theory.

A player that regularly plays poker.

A minimum amount of money in a tournament prize pool that the casino guarantees if they do not get the number of players to make it.

Gut Shot
To draw to and/or hit an inside straight.

A player’s best five cards.

A poker game between two players.

To decide the first dealer in the flop tournaments each user is dealt a single card and the player with the highest card (based on the card and the suit order – of spades, hearts, diamonds & clubs) becomes the theoretical dealer.

The position to the right of the cut-off.

Split pot games.

Hold ’em
Also known as Texas Hold ’em, where the players get two down cards and five community cards. See our complete Hold ’em rules in our Game Rules section.

Hole Cards
These are the Down Cards in front of the players.

To take a long time over a trivial decision to deceive your opponent.

A slang term for pocket jacks.

A poker game that consists of five different limit poker variants: Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Stud high, and Eight or better (Stud Hi-Lo).

Hot Streak
A run of winning hands or general good luck.

The casino or cardroom that is hosting the poker game.

Hold’em Poker For Advanced Players is a poker strategy book by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth.

A Heads Up Display is a piece of software that tracks other players’ actions at the table and displays them to you.

Idle Card
A card that adds no value to a poker hand.

Implied Odds
The consideration of the likelihood that you can make more money on future streets if you make your hand.

In the Middle
Another term for the money in the pot, as it is often placed in the middle of the table.

In the Money
The stage of a tournament where any player who is knocked out will receive a prize.

Independent Chip Model
A way of looking at the value of tournament chips as they relate to the likelihood of a player finishing in each remaining paid spot.

Indirect Bet
A bet or raise made by a player that increases the size of the pot for another player with a strong hand.

Inside Straight
Four cards which require another between the top and the bottom card to complete a straight. Players who catch this card make an Inside Straight.

Investment Odds
The estimated returns of an investment.

J Boy
A slang term for a jack.

Jackpot Poker
A form of poker in which the cardroom or casino offers a jackpot to a player who has lost with a really big hand (usually Aces full or better).

Jacks-or- Better
A form of poker in which a player needs to have at least a pair of jacks to open the betting.

To go all in.

Jammed Pot
A pot that has been raised the maximum number of times allowed in the game.

Jesse James
A slang term for 45, as the outlaw was reportedly shot with .45.

Kansas City Lowball
Form of lowball poker in which the worst poker hand (2, 3, 4, 5, 7 of different suits) is the best hand. It’s also known as Deuce to Seven.

Keep Them Honest
To call at the end of a hand to prevent someone from bluffing.

Key Card
A card that gives you a big draw or makes your hand.

Key Hand
In a session or tournament, the one hand that ends up being a turning point for the player, either for better or worse.

The highest unpaired side card in a players’ hand.

Kick It

Kill Pot
A method to stimulate action. It is a forced bet by someone who has just won a pot(s).


A hand that contains a K-J.

Two Queens.

A Loose Aggressive Player is one who plays a lot of hands preflop and plays them aggressively pre and postflop.

Late Position
Position on a round of betting where the player must act after most of the other players have acted (usually considered to be the two positions next to the button).

Lay Down Your Hand
When a player folds.

The first player to bet into a pot.

A common mistake a player makes in their game that is losing them money.

Limit Poker
A game that has fixed minimum and maximum betting intervals along with a prescribed number of raises.

The first player who calls a bet.

Limp In
To enter the pot by calling rather than raising. (The usual concept of “Limp In” is when the first person to speak just calls the Big Blind.)

Live Blind
An instance where the player puts in a dark bet and is allowed to raise, even if no other player raises. It’s also known as an “option”.

Live Card(s)
In Stud Games, cards that have not yet been seen and are presumed to still be in play.

Live Hand
A hand that could still win the pot.

Live One
A not so knowledgeable player who plays a lot of hands.

A hand that has no way of losing.

The position to the right of the hijack.

When a player calls the final bet before the showdown.

Is a player who plays a lot hands.

Is a form of draw poker in which the lowest hand wins the pot.

A player who is constantly getting lucky at the poker table.

Made Hand
A hand that doesn’t need to improve to be considered good.

Main Pot
The center pot. Any other bets are placed in a side pot(s) and are contested among the remaining players. This occurs when a player(s) goes all-in.

To make the deck is to shuffle the deck.

A very aggressive player who plays a lot of hands.

A slang term for QJ.

Middle Pair
In flop games, when a player makes a pair with one of his/her down cards and the middle card on the flop.

Middle Position
Somewhere between the early and late positions on a round of betting (the fifth, sixth and seventh seats to the left of the button).

Minimum Buy-In
The least amount you can start a game with.

A call that is made by mistake or an incorrect verbalization of the ranking of a hand.

When a mistake is made in the dealing of a hand which causes the hand to be reshuffled and redealt.

To not hit the card you need to make your hand.

Missed Blind
A required bet in a cash game that is not posted when it is the player’s turn to do so, usually because the player has left the table.

A very big hand. In a tournament, a player who begins to accumulate chips after having a small stack is considered to be a monster.

MTT (Multi Table Tournament)
A poker tournament that consists of more than one table of players with a set entry fee and prizes for the top percentage of participants.

To discard or throw away your hand. It’s also a pile of cards that are no longer in play.

A slang term for KQ.

NFD (Nut Flush Draw)
A flush draw where the player can make the best possible flush if they hit it.

A player who doesn’t play many hands/doesn’t give much action at the table.

No Limit
A game where players can bet as much as they like (as long as they have it in front of them) on any round of betting.

Nut Flush
The very best flush that is possible for a player to have.

The best possible hand at any point of the game. A hand that cannot be beat.

The probability of making a hand vs. the probability of not making a hand.

Cards of a different suit.

A game in which each player is dealt four down cards with five community cards. To make your hand, you must play two cards from your hand and three from the board.

On the Button
Playing a hand from the dealer’s position, which makes the player last to act in a postflop betting round.

On the Come
A old-school slang term for being on a draw.

On Tilt
A player who is playing emotionally, often due to a string of unlucky hands.

To make the first bet.

Open-ended Straight
Four consecutive cards whereby one additional (consecutive) card is needed at either end to make a straight.

Open Card
A card that is dealt face-up.

Open Handed
A category of poker games where some or all of a player’s hand is exposed.

Open Limp
To be the first player to limp preflop.

Open Pair
A pair that has been dealt face-up.

An option is a Live Blind made in the dark before the cards are dealt. If no one raises, the “option” player may raise the pot.

Out Button
A disc placed in front of a player who wishes to sit out a hand(s) but remain in the game.

The number of cards a player can hit to make the best hand.

The act of making a bet that exceeds the size of the pot.

To make a call after there has already been a bet/raise and a call.

Cards that are higher than the highest card on the board.

The amount of money that a casino puts up to meet the guarantee if they do not get the required number of players to meet it.

A pocket pair higher than the highest card on the board.

Face or picture cards (Jack, Queen and King).

Two cards of the same face or number value.

To fold.

Pay Off
To call on the final round of betting when you may or may not think you have the best hand.

Picture Cards
Face cards (Jack, Queen and King).

Play Back
To raise or re-raise another player’s bet.

Playing the Board
When a player’s hole cards cannot beat those of the board, making the player’s best five-card hand the five cards on the board.

The down cards or hole cards.

Pocket Pair
Two cards of the same rank in the player’s hole cards.

Pocket Rockets
A pair of Aces in the pocket or hole.

Poker Room
A place where people can play poker, either for real money or play money.

Where a player is seated in relation to the dealer, therefore establishing that player’s place in the betting order.

When you post a bet, you place your chips in the pot. (You must post the Blinds.)

The money or chips in the center of a table that players try to win.

Pot Committed
When a player has already placed a significant number of chips in the pot to the point where it becomes difficult to fold to another bet/raise.

Pot Limit
This is a game where the maximum bet can equal the pot.

Pot Odds
The amount of money a player must call compared to the amount in the pot, including the bet. For example, if the pot is $100 and your opponent bets $100, you have to call $100 to win $200 (the initial $100 + your opponent’s $100 bet), giving you odds of 2:1.

The first round of betting in flop games such as Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha.

Preflop Raise
A raise that is made during the first betting round of a flop game such as Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha.

A person hired by the cardroom to work as a shill.

When the dealer pushes the chips to the winning player at the end of a hand. It’s also when dealers rotate to other tables.

Put Down
To fold a hand.

Four of a kind.

In High-Low games, it is a requirement the Low hand must meet to win the pot.

A slang term for a straight flush.

A tray that holds 100 poker chips in five stacks of twenty chips each.

A low card that is with a high card in a player’s hand. For example, a hand like A5 is considered to be an ace-rag, as there is an ace with a low card.

The rim of a poker table or a barrier outside a poker area.

Someone who hangs around a poker room who watches the games and/or is looking to get into action.

When all cards on the flop are of a different suit.

To increase the previous bet.

Chips taken from the pot by the cardroom for compensation for hosting the game.

A partial refund of the rake a player has paid at an online casino as a reward for playing on the site.

The value of each card and hand.

When a player knocks on the table indicating that he/she has checked.

Seven Card Stud where the lowest five cards win the pot.

The amount of money a player pays to add a fixed number of chips to his/her stack in a tournament.

To raise a raise.

To take the information you have on how a player plays and their tendencies to make a decision on the hand they have or the action they’re going to take.

To make a bluff with the intention of looking like a strong hand. For example, when the flush draw completes on the turn, you can make a big bet as a bluff to represent the flush.

Ring Game
A “live” game that is not a tournament.

This is the last card given in all games. In Hold’em and Omaha, it is also known as 5th street. In Stud games, it is also known as 7th street.

A player who doesn’t play many hands, similar to a nit.

Round of Betting
This is when players have the opportunity to bet, check or raise. Each round of betting ends when the last bet or raise has been called.

Guys who hustle for a living. This is also the name of a popular poker movie starring Matt Damon and Ed Norton.

Royal Flush
This is an Ace high straight (A-K-Q-J-10) of the same suit. It is the best possible hand in poker.

When a player hits the perfect turn and river cards to make the hand they need. Going “runner-runner” is required to make a backdoor draw.

Running Bad
When a player is getting consistently unlucky.

To make it look like you have a weak hand to get your opponent to make a bet.

When a player is stuck between two opponents so that they must always act after the first but before the second.

It is a mini-tournament to gain an entry into a larger tournament.

A card that completes possible draws or gives the possibility of a higher pair. It often makes a player with a decent hand slow down their betting in case they’re beaten and is used by a bluffing player to continue their bluff.

To win the entire pot.

Seating List
A waiting list. A player would put his or her name on this list if there were no seats at the table at which they wish to play.

Second Pair
In flop games, when you pair the second highest card on the board.

To call.

A bluff made with the chance of making the best hand, usually when a player has some kind of draw.

A term for three of a kind when a player has a pocket pair, and the same rank card is on the board.

Seven-card Stud
A well-known poker game in which players get three down cards and four up cards. You play the best five of those seven cards. Click here for information on Seven-card Stud.

Seventh Street
This is the final round of betting in Seven Card Stud and Stud 8 or Better.

Shills are paid props who help start and maintain poker games.

A poker tournament where a player must beat everyone at their table before they’re moved onto the next round.

Short Stack
A player with a low number of chips.

The act of going all in.

At the end of the final betting round, it’s when all active players turn their cards face-up to see who has won the pot.

Side Pot
A separate pot(s) which is contested by remaining active players when one or more players are all-in.

Sit and Go
A poker tournament that begins once a certain number of players has registered.

Sixth Street
In Seven-card Stud, this is the fourth “up” card dealt to the player (their 6th card). It is also the 4th round of betting.

To make a passive action with a strong hand in the hopes that your opponent will bet for you or to disguise the strength of your hand.

Small Blind
The amount put in the pot by the person immediately to the left of the dealer “button” prior to the cards being dealt.

Smooth Call
To make a call with a strong hand that would usually be raised.

To play passively against a player because you are friends with them. This is heavily discouraged at almost all poker tables.

A fairly tight player (and reasonably good).

Speed Limit
A pair of fives.


A pile of chips.

The amount of money a player can buy into the game with.

When a player remains in the game by calling rather than raising.

Steel Wheel
A five high straight (A-2-3-4-5) of the same suit.

A straddle is a Blind bet which is usually double the size of the Big Blind\ (and that player may raise when the action gets to him).

Five consecutive cards of any suit.

Straight Flush
Five consecutive cards of the same suit.

The limits put on the blinds/ante, bets, and raises in any particular game.

Stud Games
Games in which players get down cards and up cards.

A player who is losing in a game.

A playing card characteristic that is not its rank. A card’s suit can either be clubs, diamonds, hearts, or spades.

When a player’s hole cards are of the same suit.

To take a long time to make a decision.

An action or movement made by a player that hints at the strength of their hand.

Texas Hold’em
This is also the name for Hold’em, the most popular form of poker.

Third Street
In Seven Card Stud and Seven Card Stud 8 or Better, this is the first betting round on the first three cards.

Thirty Miles
Three tens.

The third bet a player can make after the action has gone bet, raise.

Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same number or face value (“trips”).

A player who doesn’t play many pots. A tight game is one that doesn’t have much action.

A state of playing where a player uses emotion rather than logic to make decisions, often characterized by loose-aggressive play that is out of the norm for that player.

Tournament of Champions.

Top Kicker
The best card that can accompany a pair. For example, on a flop of K65, if a player has a king, the best card they can have with it is an ace, as that’s the highest card.

Top Pair
In flop games, when the player pairs one of his down cards with the highest card on board.

Top Set
Three of a kind with the highest card on the board. For example, if the flop is Q83 and a player has QQ, they have top set.

To play passively with a strong hand in the hopes that your opponent will bet for you.

A pair of threes.

Three of a kind.

In flop games, this is the fourth card dealt. It is the third round of betting.

Two Pair
A hand consisting of two different pairs.

Under the Gun
The player to the right of the big blind. This player is first to act preflop.

A hand that is not likely to win.

Up Card
A card that is dealt face-up.

Value Bet
A bet that is made with the intention of getting called by a worse hand.

The statistical measure of how far your results differ from the expectation. For example, if you get your money in with the best hand multiple times and lose, your actual results are lower than your expectation; therefore, you have experienced negative variance.

Walking Sticks
A pair of sevens.

Wayne Gretzky
A slang term for the hand 99, based on the player’s jersey.

Wet Board
A board that has a large number of draw possibilities.

Wild Card
A card that can be played as any value.

Worst Hand
A losing hand.

The World Poker Tour is a high-stakes tournament series that takes place around the world.

World Series of Poker.